Mississippi River Ontario: Recreational Whitewater Paddling

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The Mississippi River (Ontario) is located in Eastern Ontario and is a tributary of the Ottawa River. It originates at Mazinaw Lake which borders on Bon Echo Provincial Park and enters the Ottawa River at Galetta just outside of the City of Ottawa. The main whitewater portion of the Mississippi suitable for whitewater paddling is located near the village of Lanark in Lanark County, about an hours drive west of Ottawa. The river can easily be paddled in an afternoon; usually taking about three hours including scouting time. It is primarily a spring run but extreme rain could permit a fall or late summer run, however it is unlikely conditions would be ideal.

Class and Safety

The Mississippi is a Class I to III river that is generally runnable in the spring when water discharge levels are between 30 (m3/s) and 125 (m3/s). Most of the rapids are either Class I or II with a river wide dam about halfway through the run that is unavoidable and considered a Class III rapid, scouting is recommended. At lower levels the river can be dangerous due to lack of water depth and the potential to hit rocks when flipped. During the summer the water levels are low enough that rolls become unfeasible, making the rapids not only tedious but also very dangerous. Additionally the river is fairly narrow where there are rapids (10-30m) and they often lack eddys and are fairly long meaning a swim or lost paddle could result in a long swim or long walk along shore. This river is not nearly as large as the Ottawa River and as a result it is also less paddled, meaning it is common to not see anyone else on the river. Therefore, it is important to go paddling with at least another person or preferably a group in case of any problems. Finally during the early spring the water is extremely cold and proper gear (drysuit, poogies, farmer johns, etc.) is required to prevent hypothermia.

The Put In

Co-ordinates: 44.9744, -76.4509

The put in is on Sheridan Rapids road just past the bridge by the fire hydrant. It is important to move your vehicle after unloading as the fire department may need access to hydrant and other people use the put in. There is parking along the side of Iron Mine Road just past the put in.

The Take Out

Co-ordinates: 44.969, -76.409

The take out is just downriver of the Playfairville Bridge on McDonalds Corners Road on river left before the river widens. There is space along the side of the road to park.

The Rapids

First Rapid

The first rapid is a kilometre after the put in and consists of a large wave to the right at higher levels and ledge to the left that can become a fairly sticky hole. They are both followed by a mellow wave train which exits into a wider section of the river. These rapids are about 350m long. They can be scouted on river left, there is a portaging sign visible where you should pull out.

Second Rapid

The second rapid is 300m after the first and consists of a class II hole in the river centre that is easily avoidable followed by approximately 500m of class I rapids interspersed with fast flowing flat water. There are a few river wide ledges that can be easily punched, even in playboats.

Third Rapid

The Third set of rapids is a kilometre in length and begins by the large white house on the hill on river left. It begins where the river narrows to approximately 6 metres in

Third Section of Mississippi Rapids near Playfairville

width and forms a small Class II chute that enters into a wave train. It is advisable to scout this on river left as holes form in different areas at different levels and it is possible for debris to collect in this set of rapids. Exiting this the river bends right and there is the first of a set of three river wide damns. They are fairly small but can become quite sticky at higher levels.

Fourth Rapid

The fourth and final set of rapids is right by the takeout and a class I rapid. It starts just before the bridge and the takeout is just before the river widening on river left at the large rocks. The Rapids themselves can easily be navigated from your boat and scouting is generally not necessary. This section of rapids is the widest one on the river and there are many safe routes down it with a few large boulders that are easily visible.

References

[1]

[2]

[3]

References

  1. http://www.whitewaterontario.ca/rivers/index.php/Mississipi. Whitewater Ontario: "Mississippi". Created: April 22, 2015. Accessed: October 2, 2015.
  2. http://www.parkerclan.ca/07may2011.php. Ted's Outdoors Pages: "Lanark Mississippi River May 2011". Ted Parker. Created: May 2011. Accessed: October 2, 2015.
  3. http://www.raccc.ca/index.php/route-descriptions/380-mississippi-river-lanark-updated-2010. RA Centre: "WW Mississippi River". Paul Gallagher. Created: April 2005. Accessed: October 2, 2015.